Las Vegas by the bay

April 30, 2013 / By

Commonly, when you mention Las Vegas, you think “casinos”. Even though a larger portion of the famous Las Vegas Strip actually sits within Clark County, outside the city limits of Las Vegas, the name sticks.

Over the past decade, Macau has established itself as a rival destination for the casino and gaming market. Today, the Philippines aims to establish itself as among the foremost destinations for casino and gaming by developing Entertainment City.

Entertainment City is a 100-hectare integrated resort complex that plans to offer a mix of hotel, retail and casino establishments on reclaimed land in Manila Bay. In contrast to nature-oriented tourist attractions in the Philippines, the integrated complex will be a destination that creates its own attraction through casinos and gaming.

The area is highly accessible, located a few blocks from Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (EdSA), a major artery that traverses the cities of Metro Manila, and Roxas Boulevard, one of Metro Manila’s main links to Southern Luzon. It is also located just 3 kilometres from Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) is spearheading the development of Entertainment City, setting investment guidelines for its proponents. Foremost of which is a minimum investment commitment of USD 1 billion, with USD 650 million of this amount as an initial investment for the resort to start operations. Each resort must offer at least 800 hotel rooms, have a GFA of 250,000 sqm, with 20,000 sqm of retail space, and set aside a maximum of 7.5% of the GFA as a gaming area.

Pagcor has issued four licenses to operators for the development of integrated resorts within Entertainment City, namely Bloomberry Resorts & Hotels, Inc.; Melco Crown-Belle Corporation; Tiger Resorts; and Alliance Global-Genting Berhad. The planned developments include around 7,770 hotel rooms. If we use the Pagcor guidelines as a baseline, there should be a minimum of 80,000 sqm of retail space, along with gaming areas spanning 75,000 sqm, in these four resort areas.

Bloomberry Resorts & Hotels, Inc. is the first to proponent to open its resort project in Entertainment City. Phase 1 of Solaire Manila started operations in mid-March 2013, making available 500 hotel rooms and a 27,700-sqm gaming area. Phase 1A is slated for completion by 2014 and will add another 300 rooms to the resort. This is only a preview of what is expected to be the first large-scale integrated resort complex in the country.

Tourism arrivals in the Philippines reached 4.3 million in 2012, up from 3.9 million in 2011. The National Tourism Development Plan envisions that this number will reach 10 million by 2016 and Pagcor sees the development of Entertainment City as one of the means to achieve this vision. Entertainment City, with its world-class developments, can place the Philippines alongside the ranks of renowned destinations for the gaming-oriented tourism market, expanding the predominantly nature-oriented tourism market for which the Philippines is known.

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